SPRINGFIELD — Electric.
One of many ways to describe Blake Arena for the 2019 ECAC Men’s Gymnastics Championship. It was that type of atmosphere from start to finish as gymnasts from Army, Illinois-Chicago, Navy, Springfield College and William & Mary competed to look to bolster their resumes for the opportunity to compete at NCAA’s in two weeks. Springfield College head coach Matt Davis talked about the atmosphere in Blake Arena.
“Competing in front of your home crowd is always a great experience to look forward to and especially here in Blake Arena to, it’s an atmosphere where the crowd is right there and you can hear them and it’s something we always look forward to.”
Navy won the team competition with a score of 401.150. The Midshipmen were followed by Army, William & Mary, Springfield, and Illinois-Chicago in the team standings. The Pride scored a 383.150 just about five points off their season high. Despite not finishing top three Davis was proud of the way his team competed.
“Honestly, the first thing we did before the competition when we brought the team in the first thing I said was how proud I am of them and how hard they worked this year. They’ve grown from the first day and you can see the confidence building. Each one of them put their heart and soul in for themselves and for the team and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
For the Pride the big story of the day was junior Stephen Lewis who defended his all-around title to become the first Springfield College gymnast to win multiple all-around titles and just the fourth to win multiple ECAC titles. Lewis scored a 79.350 to best Army freshman Matthew Davis who scored a 79.050. Lewis delivered a team best score or tied for a team best on five of the six events on the day for the Pride. Davis was pleased with the performance of Lewis to secure his second consecutive ECAC title.
“He really works hard. He’s really talented and this year he had some injuries so we kind of held him back in practice but he did an awesome job. It’s all a mental game at this point and he’s out to prove that in every routine he did that he wanted to repeat.”
For the Pride, its day started off on the rings where Lewis led the Pride with a 13.050 good for eighth in the event followed by sophomore John Rowbotham with a 12.900 and junior Jeremy Vera who scored a 12.850. The Pride next moved to their best routine of the day with a team score of 68.900. The Pride were led by Lewis with a 14.100 good for fourth place while sophomore John Murphy and freshmen Noah Candocia finished with a 14.050 as part of a three way tie for fifth with William & Mary’s Collin Lillie.
Next up the Pride hit the parallel bars where senior Jannik Haas and Lewis tied for the team’s best score with a 12.800 and was also good for a tie for fifth place. On the horizontal bar the Pride received their best score from Haas at 13.000 good for seventh closely followed by freshmen Kyle Lukaesko with a 12.800. On the last two events for the Pride, the floor exercise and the pommel the Pride were led by Stephen Lewis and sophomore Trevor Lamberton and on the pommel the Pride were led by Lewis, junior Nick Cramer, and sophomore Jack Vollo.
A common theme for the Pride has been the performance of the underclassmen. Davis was happy with their performances and is excited for what the future holds for his young team.
“Christian Wilkey’s really been a rock on four of the six events. He performed as well as we expected. Kyle Lukaesko hit really well on high bar as well as Alex Fitzgerald. We’re excited to see what they do the next three years.”
The Pride who did not have a high enough team score over the season to qualify as a team for NCAA’s now await the announcement of the individual qualifiers for the NCAA Championships hosted by the University of Illinois. For the members of the Pride who qualified they will be competing on Friday April 19th looking to move onto the individual finals on Saturday April 20th.
Photo courtesy Springfield College Athletics